Lily Allen returns from a 5 year sabbatical to divulge her latest offering in the form of ‘Sheezus’. This is by no means the most anticipated comeback record so Lily is adamant to show that she’s still got “it". Working with a long-time collaborator, producer Greg Kurstin, Lily brings us her take on every generic style the kids are down with these days. A concoction of deflated trap, disco and even a hint of soft rock suggests that, unsure of what will catch on, she’s lazily hedged her bets. The name of the album itself is a testament to it’s inane quest for relevance; punning one of the most controversial albums to grace pop culture last year, Kanye West’s [masterpiece] ‘Yeezus’.
The eponymous track, essentially a watered down rendition of Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Control, challenges infallible member’s of pop royalty (Queen Bey, Rhi-Rhi, Gaga et-al) to the title of ‘Sheezus’. Personally I don’t perceive Lily as a contender for this crown, however, her straight-talking, satirical lyricism still engender some of her old charm - in particular a verse on periods which I’m sure she construes as being a faux pas (or maybe she’s just making sure she still ticks the feminist box). DJ Dahi (renowned for his work on Drake’s ‘Worst Behaviour’) injects the track with signature 808 sub-bass and triple-time hi hats but ultimately the song stands as a adulterated regurgitation of contemporary hip-hop.
Another “highlight” of the album is the auto-tuned dancehall track ‘L8CMMR’. With lyrics almost as obscene as Vybz Kartel while maintaining the radio friendly decency one would expect, bar a token “motherfucker”. For me this just epitomises Parlophone’s immense creative control over the album, pushing for a wholesome pop record against Lily’s desire to be controversial. In a repartee with a critic on twitter Lily admitted that “the labels and the radio stations won’t play the better stuff” and agreed with the twitics description of the album as “docile pop rubbish”. Naturally, this evoked a tiny grain of sympathy for her artistic struggle in my cold heart.
Despite my personal compassion for the conflict of creative forces which seem to have ruined this album, it simply does not work as a coherent body of work. The album fidgets between genres from song to song and ineffectually strives to have any actual relevance. This battle is best proved by her cover of Keane’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ paper clipped on the end of the track list like a last ditch bid for a diverse cliental. Through pop culture clichés, ‘Sheezus’ makes for a jarring listening experience and fails to match any of Lily Allen’s past successes.
Words: Adam Loft